You invest a lot of time when you name your business service or product, and that name is your brand which over time can become your most valuable company asset.
Registering your name at Companies House or owning the domain name to your website gives you no legal right to prevent others from using it as a trademark.
Registering your brand name or logo as a trademark will let others know that you are serious about protecting your own intellectual property. It will also make it easier for you to stop others from copying your trademarks and trading off your good name.
A registered trademark can be identified by an R in a circle. You can apply online through the Intellectual Property Office or you can get help from a trademark attorney.
Not every name can be registered as a trademark. Words that directly describe what you sell all the services you offer can’t be registered. Neither can names that have become customary in your line of trade such as “Four by Four” for vehicles. They have to be original too.
Commonly used phrases such as “Putting Customers First” can’t be registered as trademarks because they’re not distinctive to anyone business and because traders shouldn’t ever be prevented from being able to state that they put their customers first.
A trademark can be a logo or a word, or a combination of the two. It can also be a shape, a colour or even a sound. It can’t be offensive to the public or contained taboo words or pornographic images. You can’t register specially protected emblems or imply that your business is something that it isn’t.
Once your trademark is registered, you can renew it every 10 years and as your business grows you can apply for trademarks all over the world.
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